Monday Mornings with Madison

Controlling your First and Last Hour of the Day to Amp Up Productivity

Word Count: 1,750
Estimated Read Time: 7 min.

Some of the most prolific workaholics in the U.S. – people famous for it like Jeff Bezos, Mark Cuban, Elon Musk, and Oprah Winfrey — work an average of 12-14 hours a day which comes to a max of about 3,750 hours a year (12 hours a day, six days a week, every single week of the year).  According to an article in Professional Athletes Foundation this year, “Musk infamously blocks his day in five-minute increments, which also includes inhaling lunch. His 85- to 100-hour work weeks are split between Mondays and Fridays at SpaceX in Los Angeles and Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at Tesla in the Bay Area. It’s unclear when he makes time for his other projects, including The Boring Company and OpenAI.  Musk doesn’t take phone calls, instead only responding to email.”[1] Continue reading

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How to Increase Work Excellence, Part 2

Word Count: 1,434
Estimated Read Time: 6 min.

Organizations everywhere – from the smallest mom-n-pop shops to the largest, multi-national corporations and government entities– want efficient, effective and accomplished workers.  They want every employee to excel at what they do.  In a dog-eat-dog marketplace, employees who bring their A-Game every day and produce the highest-caliber work separate and elevate companies that are thriving and transforming the world from those who are just barely getting by or keeping up.   So, organizations are always highly focused on how to get excellent work from every employee every day.  At most companies, big or small, the approach has been to hire, reward and promote employees who perform best. Continue reading

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How to Increase Work Excellence, Part 1

Word Count: 1,323
Estimated Read Time: 5 ½ min.

According to Publishers Weekly, 15,473 business books were published in the U.S. in 2013 and 16,604 were published in 2014.[1] At that pace, there have been over 300,000 business books published in the last two decades in just the U.S. alone.  More than half of them were focused on human resources and productivity issues…  recruiting, hiring, training, and managing people in order to generate an excellent work product.  There is a profound desire to know the best way to help employees do their best work possible.   And, there has been a lot of scientific research in this area.   That’s because organizations everywhere – whether for profit, not-for-profit or even charitable – want to have the most efficient, effective and accomplished workforce.  They need employees to produce first-rate work just to stay competitive.  This is true regardless of industry or sector.  From athletes playing a professional sport to the surgeons operating on patients to programmers writing complex algorithms, we want people to do excellent work. Continue reading

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The Halo Effect in Business and Brands, Part 2

How the Halo Effect Impacts Business and Brands

The “Halo Effect,” a cognitive bias in which one person’s overall impression is influenced by assumptions based on unrelated, concrete information.   If a person likes one aspect of something, he tends to be predisposed to think positively about other aspects of it, even if they’re totally unrelated.   For example, Amazon offers a convenient way to order products online.  Therefore, Amazon is awesome and features the lowest prices.  It is the tendency to judge something (a person, place or thing) through the filter of a single, narrow perception.  And then, perception becomes reality. Continue reading

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The Halo Effect in Business and Brands, Part 1

Word Count: 1,568
Estimated Read Time: 6 min.

How the Halo Effect Impacts Business and Brands

What is the Halo Effect?  Simply put, the Halo Effect is a mental bias people demonstrate that takes one trait of a person and generalizes it to the rest of the person’s characteristics.  First defined by U.S. psychologist Edward Thorndike nearly a century ago (1920), it describes a tendency that people have to reach specific conclusions about a person on the basis of a general impression or unrelated information.  For example, if a person is pleasing (cheerful and good natured), then it is assumed the person’s other attributes — about which is known little or nothing — are also favorable.  A nice person might be assumed to be hard working, loyal and trustworthy.  Politicians capitalize on this predisposition by appearing warm, friendly and likeable in public even though they might say little or nothing about their position on the issues. Continue reading

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Prepared to Do the Job

Word Count: 1,591
Estimated Read Time: 6 min.

To Train or Not to Train, That is the Question

Is staff training necessary?  The short answer is yes.  Training is necessary, in part, because every company does things a little differently.  It is not enough for a new employee to have the skills for a job.  They must also know how to apply those skills to a particular job at a particular company.  A business might hire a person with a degree in accounting, but that person would still need to learn not only how to apply those accounting skills to that position (such as accounting for an eCommerce company vs. accounting for a university), but also how that particular company wants things to be done using their systems and processes.  For most new hires, that type of onboarding training is necessary.  If it is done poorly, employees fumble and stumble making the learning curve longer and more painful.  It can even contribute to turnover in cases where new hires never quite find their footing. Continue reading

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Workplace Communication– Part 2

Word Count: 1,520
Estimated Read Time: 5 1/2 min.

Part 2 – Talking the Talk, and then Walking the Walk

There is a lot of talking done at work.  But all talk is not created equal.   Some of it consists of pleasantries and personal chit chat, which is normal among coworkers and helps with bonding and rapport (within limits). Some talk is comprised of actual work conversations that can drag on and be unclear or wholly unproductive.  And then there is the kind of talk that helps communicate the vision, formulate the plans, flesh out details of how, when, where and by whom work will be done, and solve the problems that arise in business. Indeed, some conversations are critical for success.  Some should be limited.  And some should not happen at all.  So how does a manager determine which chats are nothing more than idle gossip and pointless blather, which are work-related but are an unfocused waste of time, and which conversations are highly beneficial to the organization and get everyone working on productive tasks?  It begins by recognizing the kinds of workplace conversations that happen and how to deal with each.

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Workplace Communication– Part 1

Word Count: 1,316
Estimated Read Time: 5 1/2 min.

Part 1: Looks Who’s Talking

Communication abounds in business.  It is needed for effective teamwork, sharing of ideas, collaboration across departments and between levels of leadership, interaction with clients and vendors, hiring and training of staff, and much more.   Some of it is written, but most of it is verbal.  But there is a law of diminishing returns when it comes to talking at work.  Everyone knows there are productive conversations, there are pointless meetings, and then there is idle blather.  For work to get done, people must communicate on the work at hand.  Often, though, business conversations digress into rants and yammering that is a waste of time.   There is a point where repetitive and rehashed discussions and personal chit chat waste time.  There is moment when the talk should stop and work should start (unless, of course, the job involves talking, such as teaching, phone sales, customer service, etc.)   The truth is that most jobs require some time spent talking and the rest of the time doing other tasks related the job.  Developing code.  Designing blueprints.  Balancing spreadsheets.  Analyzing data.  Writing content.  Setting up digital campaigns.  Processing payments.  Etc.  And, in most jobs, when talk exceeds action, it undercuts productivity and eats into profits. Continue reading

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Broken Promises: When a Brand Fails to Deliver on its Commitments

Word Count: 1,437
Estimated Read Time: 6 min.

Businesses make promises to its customers.  A brand promise spells out what customers can expect from the organization’s product or services.  Those promises are communicated verbally and in writing in a multitude of ways every day.  For example, a company’s website or app lists details about the products or services.  Marketing materials such as flyers, brochures and ads tout visually and in writing what is special about the company’s offers.  Employees talk up the organization’s purpose.  Signs scream the business’ intent.  The mission statement communicates the company’s promises.  So do corporate filings for publicly-traded entities.  And Contracts and Sales Agreements spell out in legally-binding detail the particulars of the brand’s commitment. Continue reading

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Analysis Paralysis: When Decision-Making Gets Stuck and How to Get Unstuck

Word Count: 1,656
Estimated Read Time: 6 1/2 min.

When Decision-Making Gets Stuck

The average person makes a lot of decisions daily.  Researchers Barbara Sahakian and Jamie Nicole LaBuzetta estimated that an adult makes about 35,000 decisions each day, while a child makes about 3,000.[1] This may seem impossible since that is about 24 decisions per minute or one decision every two to three seconds.  But most of those are ‘remotely conscious’ decisions.  That means we do them on mental auto-pilot and most are not that important.  For instance, Brian Wansink and Jeffery Sobal, researchers at Cornell University, found that the average person makes 226.7 decisions every day just on food.[2] Food decisions are made with little intentional thought and have little or no consequence.  The same is true for lots of other decisions.  What to wear.  What time to go to bed.   We scarcely think of these small choices as “decisions.”  But, mixed in with the myriad of tiny assessments we are constantly making are important decisions as well.  And, the higher a person’s position at work, the greater the quantity and consequence of those decisions.  As the saying goes, heavy is the head that wears the crown. Continue reading

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